Modern Art Monday Presents: Dorothea Tanning, Notes For An Apocalypse

dorothea tanning notes for an apocalypse photo by gail worley
Photo By Gail

In Notes For An Apocalypse (1978), Dorothea Tanning returned to themes she had explored in the late 1930s after being introduced to surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art’s  1936 Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism exhibition. As she later explained, “I’ve always been drawn towards esoteric phenomena: the illogical, the inexpressible , the impossible.”

Here, the notion of domestic order, symbolized by the white table cloth, creased in a grid pattern, which Tanning has recalled from her Lutheran childhood in rural Illinois, is turned on its head. Bodies and limbs are so contorted that they are difficult to distinguish and, at times, nearly dissolve into the tablecloth.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

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